So we have a new Labour-led government and while they keep saying they will release policy soon their coalition partners keep letting details out.

Winston Peters, in his remarkable crowning speech, said Jacinda Ardern will release policy soon and then promptly mentioned the building of 10,000 new houses and a review of the Reserve Bank Act.

Meanwhile a leaked internal Green Party email revealed a raft of policy concessions for the Greens in Government, including a referendum on the full legalisation of the personal use of cannabis, reports NewstalkZB.

The PM has said that needs to be talked about but she is against the criminalisation of some cannabis offences.


So this is a change to the stand we have adopted in the so-called war on drugs.

Today I thought I'd continue along that line after a conversation with a health professional about our so called war on drugs.

Last weekend on TVNZ 1, the Sunday programme looked at the cost of the wave of synthetic cannabis that is spreading through the country.

We saw pictures of people who lost all bodily control, who jerk and spasm, who become as near to unconscious as you can be and we heard stories about people who have died.

It's horrific - by my count 20 deaths this year from synthetic cannabis use.

But hold on. Synthetic cannabis is not new. In fact for nine years the product was legally available. I don't recall any deaths directly caused by it.

I remember the outrage that kids were buying the stuff from dairies but I don't remember any deaths.

Probably because it was produced by named businesses which treated it as a product and applied quality control - after all, if they killed customers they'd be legally liable and go bankrupt.


But then after the storm of talkback Peter Dunne and the government decided to make it illegal.

Now synthetic cannabis is made by gangs, with no controls whatsoever on what's actually in the product and no legal liability if harm results.

The synthetic cannabis problem is now worse than it used to be. Because we criminalised it.

My medical professional friend is for legalisation of drugs because he's sure that drug use is a health problem not a crime problem.

He also points out that you never hear of anyone dying from natural cannabis. But the word from the street is that there's a dope drought right now. His belief is that producers and dealers have focused on a more insidious and unnatural product - methamphetamine. Higher profit margins, easier to produce and move around.

His view is that instead of cannabis being a gateway to harder drugs, the UNAVAILABILITY of cannabis is a gateway to harder drugs.

He reckons legalised natural cannabis would kill the synthetic cannabis problem and reduce the P epidemic.

He reckons that the government and Peter Dunne just lost the war on drugs.

So I'm prepared to hear out the Greens and Labour on this one. Though I have to say after the flag referendum debacle the country has no desire to spend money on yet another exercise that shows a lack of leadership. After all if Peter Dunne could criminalise drugs with a stroke of pen it would be easy enough for any government to decriminalise.